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By: Marcus Lee
Nearly 58 percent of the electricity for the country comes from hydroelectric plants. The national demand for energy is quickly reaching 600 terawatt hours. This number is increasing every year. The power grid is still able to handle distribution of these loads. The weather, however, can disrupt the grid. This happened as recently as the end of 2012 when 130,000 people lost power due to a severe winter storm. One of the best ways to prepare for an outage is to have an electrician install an emergency power system. Even a freestanding generator can provide enough electricity to keep a family safe and comfortable until power is restored. It is important to understand the most common emergency power systems available.

Freestanding Generators: One of the most popular emergency power systems is a freestanding generator. These units generate electricity through a standard motor. The motor is powered by some type of fuel such as gasoline or propane. These units can be small and mobile or as large as a compact automobile. The generators are considered freestanding because they do not attach directly to the electrical supply in a home. These generators must be activated manually. The power comes out of one or more outlets. Homeowners must run extension cords from the generator to the appliances or devices that need electricity in the house. These are practical for powering a few items and are cost-effective. The generators require fuel to work and regular engine maintenance.

Inverters: Inverters are emergency power systems that operate differently than gas or propane generators. Inverters require electricity from a source such as a deep cycle battery or car battery. The inverter turns the signal from the battery into a standard household electrical supply that will operate small and medium appliances. Inverters have the advantage of being completely silent since they do not use an engine. These are convenient for short outages. The disadvantage is that inverters require large banks of batteries in order to operate for more than a couple of hours. They also do not handle large items like heating systems very well.

Installed Systems: Homeowners who live in areas where storms or blizzards can cut power to the house for days at a time often use an installed emergency power system. An electrician must hook these generators directly into the circuit panel in a home. They must also be grounded. The generators are frequently operated manually. Some include a switch that detects power loss and starts the generator automatically. An active generator supplies power to every outlet in the home. The size of the generator will determine how much usable electricity is available. The generator requires fuel in order to operate. These generators are very convenient and stable. A properly sized emergency power generator will be able to power an entire heating system during the winter if necessary.

Preserving Emergency Power: Homeowners should understand that all generators have limits during an outage. Severe weather that has taken down power lines or damaged the infrastructure in some way might take days or longer to repair. It is important to unplug all of the unused devices and appliances when operating on an installed emergency power system to prevent excess electricity usage. It is also important to have an electrician check the system once or twice a year to ensure that it is functioning properly. Homeowners should have a plan about electricity usage during an outage so that no power is wasted during an emergency.


Mr. Electric is a team of professional electricians offering electrical upgrades, installation and repair for residents and businesses in the surrounding area. For reliable Burlington electricians, call us today!
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